With the 17th pick, the Baltimore Ravens select Alabama linebacker, C.J. Mosley. As the first inside linebacker selected in the first round by the Ravens since Ray Lewis in 1996, Mosley has some large shoes to fill. So let's take an in-depth look at what type of player Mosley is...
Mosley stands at 6-foot-2 and 234 pounds, making him a lean linebacker. The Ravens will be looking for him to beef up a little bit to around 240-245 pounds in an effort to keep him healthy during a long NFL season. Mosley is fluid and quick and measured up quite well at his pro day by running a 4.63 40 yard dash. With a 35" vertical jump, he is one of the highest measured linebackers of this draft class. With all of the physical attributes that he has, what is more impressive is his football IQ and his desire to get better through watching film and studying the intricacies of the position.
Unfortunately, his size leads him to only have functional strength and not the type of strength to take on blocks effectively. However, that lack of elite strength could be because of injuries throughout his college career.
Mosley does a great job of reading the field, which is directly attributed to his film work and general football intelligence. He can read and notice fakes, options and reverses quickly and effectively and plays fast because of it. Mosley isn't great at taking on blocks but has learned patience in letting blocks develop in front of him, slipping between lineman and scraping down the line to make plays in the backfield.
Mosley tackles with power and often times jars the ballcarrier with monster hits but has good technique in setting his feet and wrapping up versus using his shoulder which leads to whiffs or yards after contact. One thing that Mosley could do better is in forcing fumbles by punching with his arms when wrapping up or trying to put his helmet on the ball and knock it loose.
Mosley has the speed, agility and instincts to contribute in passing situations. At Alabama, he was often able to sniff out screens and make a play for little or no gain, which is a great talent to have in the AFC. With the Ravens, Mosley would be expected to be in zone coverage, but can line up well in man coverage but will struggle against large tight ends and wide receivers due to his size. The biggest thing Mosley has is that he is a ballhawk and is aggressive in going for the ball and fighting contested catches. That also will lead to him occasionally biting on double moves or missing and allowing a receiver to get some additional yardage. With five interceptions in his three seasons at Alabama, Mosley took three of them back for touchdowns leading me to believe that he has big play ability from a rather unexpected position.
Again, Mosley's speed and size is a bonus when he has been asked to rush the quarterback. At Alabama, he was asked to rush almost exclusively in blitzes but showed great ability in judging the snap count and jumping quickly to get a quick and unexpected push. He has experience blitzing both on the inside and outside which will work well given the Ravens' desire to mix up schemes and confuse opponents by blitzing from unique spots. Even when asked to blitz first to take on blockers, Mosley relishes his role and attacks at full speed instead of taking the play off like a lot of linebackers will do in similar situations.
While I wouldn't expect Mosley to play often on special teams, he has experience on punt coverage. Unlike almost all first round picks, Mosley gave everything he had on every play regardless of it being on special teams and adopting a diva attitude. If he is used sparingly in his first season on defense, he could see some time on special teams and would be an asset here.
As I'm sure you've noticed, I've raved about Mosley's work ethic, smarts and desire to get better in every aspect of his game. He was a major leader during his time at Alabama in the locker room, weight room and film room to the point of even being labeled as a 'film junkie'. Mosley is a high character person that stays competitive yet humble. I personally expect him to use his slide down to #17 and replacing Hall of Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis, as motivation to hit a whole new level. Mosley ultimately fits the motto of 'play like a Raven' and will fit in immediately among a locker room of veterans and former first round selections with ease.
Overall, Mosley is a great pick. He was often expected to be a top 10 pick before injuries slowed down his senior season at Alabama. He's a smart, physical player and if he can stay healthy, will bring an immediate and long lasting impact on a tough Ravens defense. While it would be near impossible to fill Ray Lewis' shoes and be a similar player, I see all the same characteristics and motivation that made Ray the player that he became.